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A Commentary on LSD
by Alice Dee
Citation:   Alice Dee. "A Commentary on LSD". 1998.
LSD (D-Lysergic Acid Diethylamide, or Acid for short) can be a wonderful psychotropic ally, and is probably the most versatile psychedelic known to humanity. Its effects vary from simple stimulation, like a cup of coffee, that can facilitate intense focus for 8ish hours at the 25mcg dose range (excellent for programming, writing, driving or listening to lectures) to a social, stimulating psychedelic in the 50-200 mcg range (great for dancing, concerts and walks in nature) to a frankly amazing, mystic entheogen in the 300-700mcg range (much more heroic than social, but great for communing with God/dess). Some people find that the intensity of the LSD experience tends to plateau at dosages over 500-700mcg, although its duration may continue to extend.

When readily available, LSD is also one of the best value-for-money psychedelics around, usually going for $2.00 per 100 mcg 'hit' or 'dose' in the SF Bay Area (often considered an epicenter for LSD production), although have heard of people paying up to $5.00 per 100mcg elsewhere. These 100mcg dosages are fairly standard in the US these days, but are signifcantly less that the powerful 300 mcg per hit dosages that were reportedly common here in the Sixties. The lower doses per hit usually available to US psychonauts these days have probably significantly reduced the frequency of uncomfortably strong LSD trips.

Today, LSD is commonly found soaked into colorful blotter paper (an artform in itself), although sometimes it is available dissolved in liquid (usually calibrated to 100mcg per drop) or dissolved in colorful, hardened gel when it is known as windowpane. It appears that the LSD-containing tablets of various descriptions that were around in the Sixties seem to be much less common these days.

Regarding storage, it is very helpful to keep LSD in a dark, cool place for long-term storage as it is not one of the more stable psychedelic molecules. Purity is also important, and can significantly affect the quality of the experience (especially at high doses) so it is often a good idea to bioassay a new batch at lower doses to test the purity. Quad pure LSD (implying that the product is washed four times, as was said to be the practice of legendary LSD maker Owsley, aka Bear) is usually the best around, but three washes are commonly considered adequate, especially since yield is reduced with each wash. LSD synthesis is quite complex and generally requires a pretty professional lab and chemist to synthesize quality product.

With moderate doses of blotter LSD, effects start to become noticeable within around half an hour after ingestion, and tend to rise to a peak around 2-5 hours into the experience. After the peak, the trip gradually declines in intensity until one is pretty much back to baseline in around 8-12 hours. The afterglow tends to last most of the following day and is usually described as quite pleasant.

LSD can be quite safely mixed with many other psychoactives for a wide variety of fascinating experiences. The combos with XTC or 2CB (aka candyflipping) are especially enjoyable for social situations, and LSD also combines very synergistically with N2O and DXM for more intense, although relatively non-social, experiences. Many people also reportpotentiation of LSD after pretreatment with Harmala or Melatonin. Mixed reactions have been observed when combining LSD with MJ, so it is probably best to have a relatively straight sitter and a safe place to retreat to in case things get 'strange' on this combo.

The long-lasting duration of the LSD experience is also an excellent opportunity to get some deep metaprogramming work done, so it has some very interesting psychotherapeutic applications (see Stan Grof's fascinating research summarized in 'LSD Psychotherapy'). Many people deal with the extended length of the experience by taking LSD just after sunset so that they are in the tail end of the experience as the sun is rising, which nicely completes the trip.

A fairly well-established psychological phenomenon sometimes noticed by LSD users is known as imprinting. This is a psychological process whereby being exposed to an event, thought or other experience makes an impression on one's psyche. When the ego's strength is diminished, as often happens during an LSD trip, one seems to become especially sensitive to imprinting, often on a much deeper level than usual. This can be helpful or not, so it is useful to be aware of it and to make sure the set, setting and company are optimal.

It is also quite common for people to report that music perception is significantly enhanced while on LSD, so concerts and raves can be truly amazing and transformative events for the wide-eyed tripper, but it is advisable to have a relatively straight friend around as a designated driver and sitter. Also, paying careful attention to selecting music with a positive content is helpful to prevent unwanted negative messages from being imprinted.

Although one rarely feels like eating while on LSD, and it is usually best to take it on an empty stomach, candy, fruit and sorbet do taste absolutely wonderful while tripping. Also, sensitivity to temperature is often diminished, and many report that sex on LSD is quite interesting with a trusted partner. ;)

Incidentally, the much-publicized LSD flashbacks are probably a myth, and even if real, may just be a normal tendency for humans to revisit any intense psychological phenomena. If they do occur, then perhaps many LSD enthusiasts would consider this a feature, rather than a disadvantage! :) Strychnine-containing samples of LSD are also a myth, as are chromosomal damage and spinal fluid drainage with LSD usage. However, persistent tracers have been reported by a few people after excessive LSD indulgence (especially when combined with MJ), but they do not seem to occur at all with moderate usage which is often reported to actually improve visual acuity. As with most substances that are pharmaceutically active, LSD is probably best avoided altogether during pregnancy, especially during the sensitive first trimester. However, at least one study seems to indicate that low, 100mcg doses do not appear to have noticeable negative effects on either mother or fetus.

Tolerance to LSD builds quickly since those precious neurotransmitters (seratonin) can get depleted, so refraining from dosing more than once a week seems advisable. LSD also seems to be cross-tolerant with mushrooms. Also, due to the quick tolerance buildup and the seeming lack of dopamine involvement in its action, LSD is not consideredphysically addictive. In fact, it seems from recent DEA literature that pretty much the only excuse the government could come up with for placing it in Schedule I was 'unpredictable effects'. Interestingly, most LSDenthusiasts actually consider these a feature. :)

It also seems best to take LSD in a safe, private setting at least until one is used to its effects since it can make other people appear a little 'strange' and can make talking coherently a minor challenge as one's thoughts are often tumbling over one another in a hurry to be expressed. Being in the company of someone tripping on LSD can also be a bit disturbing to straight people, (even if they don't know that one is on LSD). However, there is nothing quite like being in a crowd of people tripping on LSD. The energy is fantastic! Its also interesting that the elevated energy experienced on moderate doses may cause one's voice to take on a characteristic vibrato quality, possibly combined with nervous laughter. Knowing this, it is often possible to tell if someone is on LSD just by listening to them talk. Its a totally different sound from the slow drawl of mushroom eaters, for example.

LSD has no established lethal dose in humans (although one researcher apparently did manage to kill an elephant with a huge dose of it. What a waste! [Erowid Note: The details of this tragic event are more complex and the elephant's death may not have been directly caused by LSD. Please see LSD Related Death of an Elephant, by Erowid]) and it is also generally considered to display remarkably low toxicity in normal dosages, perhaps in part due to its activity in such minute amounts. In fact, the literature reports that several people have each accidentally consumed as much as 5000 times the basic 100mcg dose (0.5g) and survived with no noticeable long-term damage. Furthermore, LSD has the distinct advantages relative to many plant psychedelics of being virtually tasteless and odorless, being quite easy on the body, and being very easy to conceal.

The pitfalls with LSD primarily occur when people resist facing the dark side of themselves, or letting go of their egos, or when they get into recursive negative thought loops, or when unpleasant things happen to them or when they want to come down before the experience is ready to end. As befits a true psychedelic, what is inside a person often comes out on LSD. However, while some people do keep Valium around to neutralize the effects of LSD in case things get uncomfortable, it usually seems best to just face what LSD helps reveal about oneself, and be prepared to be stimulated and altered for a good 8-12 hours. BTW, engaging in dancing or other enjoyable physical activity is often a wonderful way to spend a trip or to bring an uncomfortable one out of the doldrums.

Occasionally people will experience so-called Acid Indigestion on LSD, which is often easily alleviated by loosening tight clothing and by performing relaxation exercises. Some folks consider this minor stomach upset a symptom of psychological blockage, and many people never experience it at all. However, while being rather physiologically safe, the main risk involved in taking LSD (besides the unfortunate fact that it is currently illegal) seems to be that real psychological trauma can occasionally emerge or occur under its influence. Hence LSD is not recommended (except perhaps in closely-monitored, therapeutic situations) for those with unstable or immature personalities, a strong attachment to their ego, pre-existing deep-seated emotional trauma, or a tendency toward mental illness.

Nevertheless, given all of the negative press and propaganda about LSD, it is quite an eye-opener to take it for the first time and to experience its (and one's own) Divine nature, not to mention how inaccurate and biased the media portrayal of it is. As many people discovered in the Sixties, it is a common reaction to one's first LSD experience to wish that the entire world could experience this very special Divine gift to humanity. However, its helpful to be aware that even the most conservative LSD initiates often have to refrain from the temptation to dose their straight friends, since dosing anyone without their permission is just not considered ethical behavior among psychonauts.

For those who are open to the experience, may the magic of LSD come your way!